Think about the world in 20 years. What do you think it will be like? How would you want it to be?
Based on the law of accelerating returns ("Kurzweil's Law"), in the next two decades the world will experience as much technological change as in the entire 20th century! Remember to take that into account when envisioning your scenarios.
Of course, along with all the techno progress will come significant societal change as well. This is even more true if exponential general-purpose molecular manufacturing is developed before 2025, which we think is highly probable.
With progress rapidly accelerating -- and even the rate of change accelerating -- it's not easy to extrapolate current conditions and trends out to a 20-year horizon. As Niels Bohr famously said, "Prediction is extremely difficult. Especially about the future."
However, if we want to prepare in any meaningful way for what lies ahead, we must make a serious effort to understand the world in all its complexity.
Security, Climate, Poverty and the Environment Are All Linked
Climate change and environmental destruction, insecurity and violence, poverty and crisis all feed on one another. But a clean environment, poverty alleviation and sustainable development, climate stabilization, democracy, human rights and international security agreements all fuel each other.
Alex Steffen, the executive editor of WorldChanging, has published an extraordinary analysis of the relationships between all these disparate drivers of change. I strongly urge you to read the whole piece.
As Alex looks ahead, he says, "We need a future which is bright, green and tough." But he acknowledges the going may be tough. Vision, stamina, courage, and good leadership all will be essential.
There is a way forward. We have the know-how, the money and the power to remake our energy systems, redesign our cities, re-conceptualize our industries, re-imagine our agriculture, and end poverty in the process. We can do this. It won't be easy. Indeed, it's work that will take much of the rest of our lives, but we can do it.